Friday, October 16, 2009

My Review of the Radian

Sunshine Kids Juvenile Products makes 1 car seat and 1 booster seat. However, their 1 carseat now has 10, yes 10 versions.

The Radian 65 and 80 started out rear facing up to 33 pounds and forward facing up to 65 and 80 pounds (hence the names). In late 2007 or early 2008, they changed the rear facing weight limit from 33 to 35 pounds. In Sept 2008 they added the Radian XT, it is a Radian 80 with added head wings. In early 2009, SKJP retroactively (back to seats made in/ after Sept 2008) changed the rear facing weight limit to 40 pounds for all 3 Radians (65, 80, XT). There were cosmetic and structural changes made to the Radians in Sept 2008, those are the seats that passed tests rear facing to 40 pounds.

Now in Sept 2009, SKJP has released a new generation of the Radians. The Radian 65SL, 80SL, and XTSL. The SL stands for Super Latch. The new Radians can use LATCH up to the full weight limit of 65 or 80 pounds (*if the vehicles allows it). Most vehicles have a LATCH limit of 40 or 48 pounds. All vehicles manufactured after Sept 2005 were required to pass a stricter test for the LATCH. ONLY vehicles manufactured after Sept 2005 can use LATCH with the Radian SLs up to the full weight limit. Confused yet? So are many of us :)

The Radian 65SL can rear face up to 40 pounds. The Radian 80SL and XTSL can rear face up to 45 pounds.

Now that you have all the info, I will give you my review :)

The Radian has 5 sets of harness slots; 8 inches, 9.5 inches, 11 inches, 14 inches, and 16.5 inches. The lower 3 can only be used rear facing, and the top 2 can be used rear facing or forward facing. There are 3 crotch buckle positions. The Harness adjuster is like a Britax in that you tug, stop, tug, stop a few times while tightening.

The Radian XT has head wings that slide freely. You simply push them up or down so they are right above the child's shoulders. However, when a child is using the bottom 2 harness slots, the head wings must be all the way at the top of the seat.

The Radian has a rear facing base that must be used when the seat is rear facing. Unlike most other seats, you can not use a rolled towel or pool noodle to help with the recline. Unfortunately, sometimes the base makes to seat too reclined (like in this picture), even for a newborn. There are a few tricks you can try to make it more upright, but it doesn't always work. Like Britax seats, it can be tethered even when rear facing.

The Radian installs very upright forward facing. It does have a recline feature, but it doesn't recline it very much. Because it installs so upright, children can often fit in the harness longer than they can in seats with taller harness slots. It can also be difficult to install forward facing in some vehicles.

The Radian has a nice tall shell. It should fit most children rear facing for a long time (usually at least 3 or 4 years). With the new rear facing weight limits, it can definitely keep kids safer longer :) The covers are nice and soft. There are several mesh covers, I don't like the mesh but I've heard it can help keep kids cooler in the car. The newer seats (post Sept 2009) even have comfort foam under the child's butt.

I think the Radian is a nice seat, but not the answer for everyone. I'd say try it in your vehicle before you buy one, or buy from an online retailer with a good return policy. I'm using mine for Sofi now, and I'm liking it so far. I kind of wish I had the head wings of an XT though, so I may end up with one somewhere in the future.

Some pics and info courtesy of members at

Monday, October 12, 2009

My fight with the Radian is over, and I won.

I tried installing a Radian in my van, before I bought one. I think it installed pretty well after a few tries. Unfortunately, I didn't attach the RF tether, or put Sofi in it.

I bought a pretty pink Radian. I installed it, attached the tether, and put Sofi in. Attaching the tether reclined it a little more, and so did Sofi's weight :( I got tips from others online that had successfully install it in the center seat in this van, and it just wouldn't work for me :( I'd pretty much given up :(

Then, I got a message from another carseat crazy friend. She had a different way of installing the seat. So, I went out today and gave it a try. I reclined the vehicle seatback all the way, and put the base of the Radian forward of the hump on the van seat (there is a hump at the seatbite that covers the lower anchors). Didn't think that would work at all, there was a ton of space between the seatback and the Radian (even with the seatback put back up). I pulled and pulled the LATCH strap to tighten. It was still too loose :( I put the strap through the belt path to pull at a different angle, and it wouldn't tighten :( I had my husband pull, and it wouldn't tighten :( I took it out of the belt path to pull from the top again, I knelt on the Radian and bounced a little and pulled alot. And It got tight! I put the vehicle seatback up again, and voila! I attached the tether and had Sofi climb in. The seat reclined just a tad more, but not too much :)

I WIN! Sofi now has a new carseat :) She looks like she has less legroom than in the Titan, but alot more room to grow heightwise.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recline, level indicator, and an infant seat

Infant seats come with a level indicator. Different seats have a different kind, but I'm pretty sure they all have one. They are meant to tell you when your seat is properly reclined. Unfortunately, it gives you a 30- 45* range. Newborns need the 45*. If the seat is installed more upright (closer to the 30*), the baby's head can fall forward. When a newborn baby's head falls forward, it can close off their airway. The best way to make sure you have a 45* recline is to recline the seat as much as you can (either with the base's recline foot, or with noodles or rolled towels) until the indicator is on the edge of the 'ok' zone. Just, make sure you're parked on a flat surface when you do this :)

*I didn't even think about blogging about you tonight, until you mentioned it* ;)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Which seat will I buy?

Sofi needs a new carseat. She has 1 inch to grow in her Titan in my car. That 1 inch could take a month, or it could take a year. So... I prepare to get a new seat. Here is my thinking process......

My choices are: First Years True Fit, Graco My Ride, Sunshine Kids Radian, Evenflo Triumph Advance, Britax Marathon

All of these seats are taller than the Titan. Three of them will RF to 35 pounds, and 2 will RF to 40 (or 45) pounds. Sofi weighs 29 pounds. Sounds like wight isn't an issue if I want to keep her RF for 1 more year. However, she just gained 4 pounds in 6 months! So.... how much will she gain in the next year?!

I own a Radian that could RF her to 40 pounds. It's currently sitting in the closet, getting no love :( Why not just use that? I can NOT get it to install well in the center of my 2nd row :( No matter what I try, it always looks too reclined :( So.. I get to pick a new seat :)

The True Fit- It is a nice tall seat. I like how easy it is to adjust the harness height, if I wanted to put another child in it. But... Sofi's head always slumped over when she fell asleep. It wasn't dangerous or uncomfortable for her. It was just uncomfortable for me to look at ;)

The Triumph Advance- I like the seat ok. Again, easy to adjust harness heights. But it won't fit next to BabyS' Titan in my van.

The Marathon- I love how easy that was to install. I really really do. So, I took it out of my Mom's car and put it in mine. Sofi really had no leg room. She wasn't uncomfortable, but again it was uncomfortable for me to look at. So, not my choice for her primary seat.

The My Ride- Oh how I miss this seat. It installed so nicely. It really hugged her and looked like she had so much Side Impact Protection. And how she loved the cup holders (pockets). And.... I really like the purple one :D I know, I had issues with the harness adjuster strap fraying. But from those that lept their seats, it looks like it starts to fray, and then stops. So, I'm willing to give it another try.

So the winner is..... The purple My Ride! Now... if Walmart's website would just have it in stock.... we could get one.